Rafael Nadal thinks Roger Federer decided against competing at the French Open some time ago, but understands his rival's decision to pull out of Paris.
Federer announced his decision to not play in French Open and sit out the rest of the clay-court season on Monday (15 May) in order to help prolong his playing career, and Nadal, who has been in fine form so far this season, cannot fault the Swiss's decision.
"If he doesn't play one tournament before the French [Open], it's normal that he finally skip the French, no?" Nadal was quoted as saying by The Times of India. "Probably he had that decision before. Probably he didn't want to announce before.
"But thinking in a logical way, it would be strange if you don't play on clay in one event and then you start on the biggest one, playing best of five."
Nadal lost a five-set thriller to Federer in the final of the Australian Open in January, but the Spaniard bounced back from disappointment down under to emerge victorious in the Madrid Open, Barcelona Open and Monte Carlo Masters.
Nadal, lovingly nicknamed 'The King of the Clay' due to his prowess on that particular surface, is unsurprisingly seen as the favourite to scoop his 10th Paris title. The two-time Olympic gold medallist is playing with style and confidence after being beset by injuries in recent seasons and is determined to achieve all he can in what he believes is a "very important part" of the season for him.
"I already won three tournaments on clay, so I am playing well. I am very happy about the beginning of the season," said Nadal, who is preparing to face compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the round of 32 at the Italian Open. "Not only on clay. On every surface. I think I am playing great events in all the surfaces since the beginning of the year."
"Very emotional events everywhere, because in all of the events I'm playing on clay, I had a lot of success in my career, so I'm trying to enjoy every day, the fact I am playing again in these events. It's important for me that the clay court season started very, very well. It's very important part of the season for me."